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Escape the Ordinary

Volume 3, Issue 8 November 2012

All About NCCC AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, teambased residential program for men and women ages 18-24. NCCC members are assigned to one of five campuses and organized into teams of 10-12 members. Campuses are located in Perry Point, MD; Vinton, IA; Denver, CO;Vicksburg, MS; and Sacramento, CA. NCCC teams serve approximately 4-6 projects throughout their ten months of service. NCCC serves every state, responding to pressing local needs that are identified by organizations in the community. Projects are focused on the following five categories – Natural and Other Disasters, Infrastructure

Improvement, Environmental Stewardship and Conservation, Energy Conservation, and Urban and Rural Development. 100 percent of members are certified in CPR, first aid, and disaster response; approximately 9% are firefighter trained by the National Park and U.S. Forest Services. NCCC teams also support local disaster relief organizations to help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural or man-made disasters. Since September 2005, NCCC members from all campuses have served more than 9.6 million hours on 5,035 projects.


Leave Your Mark: A FEMA Corps Member Spotlight


Getting Things Done: A Graduation Celebration


Boots on the Ground with Summit 7


Getting Things Done II: An Induction Celebration


Follow My Lead: An Alumni Perspective


The Application Process



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Leave Your Mark: A FEMA Corps Member Spotlight This month’s FEMA Corps Member spotlight comes from Kelsey Stephens, currently serving at the Southern Region campus (Vicksburg, MS). A graduate of Ball State University, Kelsey studied Psychology, Sociology and Interpersonal Relations. Kelsey is a proud member of Bayou 6 and her team’s FEMA specialty role is Individual Assistance (IA). I spoke with Kelsey about her FEMA Corps experience and the great work that she and other members are providing to those in the NJ/NY area.

Kelsey (L) pictured with CNCS Director Wendy Spencer and FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino.

Coming from a rural community in Indiana, I have never gone through a natural disaster before. Pictures and Initially, I was researching the Peace stories can only do so much to explain Corps when I stumbled upon the hardships these survivors endure in AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps. FEMA their day-to-day lives. Working directly Corps caught my eye due to the with disaster survivors is truly an disaster-specific, domestic work inspiring opportunity; survivors who associated have lost their own with the belongings and program. bearings are still out assisting their families, friends, Why did and you choose neighbors. to apply? How did you first learn about AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps?

As a recent college graduate, I decided I had spent plenty of time working on my mind—it was time to work on my heart. FEMA Corps acts as the perfect portal to combine my schooling in Psychology and Sociology, my professionalism, and my benevolence into one commitment.

with me from disaster to disaster. I also hope to put my abilities to use in the community—volunteering more of my free time to other organizations and agencies in the area. And lastly, please share any advice that you might have for prospective Corps Members who are interested in FEMA Corps. Anyone who is interested in FEMA Corps should definitely be willing to live

What has been the most challenging part of your term of service thus far? How have you worked to overcome that challenge?

At times it is difficult to see the effect that such minute things such as checking one simple box can have—the right boxes checked can be What has been one of your favorite one of the determining factors that lead memories thus far? up to a disaster survivor obtaining a Receiving the FEMA specialized training place to live. I keep that notion in mind in Anniston, Alabama was very and keep reminding myself that even motivating for me; listening to the FEMA the smallest things can lead to making a officials speak of their real-life lasting impact. interactions with disaster survivors, all the while learning about the way FEMA Your term of service just started a few operates as an organization was months ago. What are some of your extremely interesting. goals as you progress through the year? Tell us about something that you’ve I plan to build upon the knowledge I done for the first time since starting. have learned thus far, carrying my skills

a life that is very different than the norm—from living in ships to working 80 hours a week—every day brings something new and challenging. You must be “FEMA flexible”!

Additional spotlights from FEMA Corps members can be found by clicking on this link: tionplacement/docs/fema_cm_sp otlights/1

to the 186 members from the North Central region who graduated on November 14, 2012 and the 137 members from the Atlantic Region who graduated on November 15, 2012. Welcome to the NCCC alumni family. Best of luck on your future endeavors. Atlantic Region

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North Central Region


...with Summit 7

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Summit 7, a FEMA Corps team from the Southern Region campus (Vicksburg, MS) is currently stationed in Staten Island working with the Community Relations branch of FEMA. They canvas neighborhoods providing residents with information on how to register with FEMA and note any critical needs observed. They also briefly worked with an Individual Assistance team at a mobile Disaster Recovery Center, helping people who were unable to make it to permanent DRC's register for assistance. I spoke with Summit 7 CM, Samual Poppen about their experiences in New York. What were your team’s thoughts as you arrived on site for your disaster service assignment? Our team was full of anticipation as we arrived in New York City ready to help those impacted by the storm, though not quite sure what to expect. What has been the most surprising moment of your assignment thus far? We are continually surprised, in the most positive way possible, by the amount of support being given to impacted areas by other communities, both from the city and elsewhere in the country. We have visited distribution centers and seen incredible amounts of donations, and volunteers have come from all over the country in order to provide support. What has been the most trying moment? Though we know our work is beneficial and necessary to the recovery of the community, we wish we could be doing more to help people individually. Some days its hard not to just stop what we're doing, pick up some gloves, and help people muck out their houses or clean up their yards.

What was the most rewarding or memorable moment? You can't please everybody in any field of work, and we have discovered that to be the case, especially in disaster relief. However, for every disgruntled individual we may encounter, there is also an appreciative one. Every time we hear a “thank you” or “you're going a good job”, it is the most rewarding experience any of us could ask for.

You’re currently providing support to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Why do you feel that disaster relief work is so important? Before witnessing a disaster first hand, it is hard to truly grasp the scope of devastation. But now having seen homes destroyed and people’s belongings strewn out in yards and into the streets, we are able to understand on a deeper level how thoroughly the storm impacted every aspect of a person's life. Knowing this, you realize all that you have to be thankful in your own life, knowing your home and family are all safe and sound. Those impacted aren't

all so lucky though, and because we already have so much to be thankful for, we want to work to restore what they lost so one day they might be whole again. And finally, what is one piece of advice you would give to prospective Corps Members interested in FEMA Corps? FEMA Corps is full of many unexpected turns and surprises. From the start, no one knew quite exactly what they had signed themselves up for, and as time goes on, we still are not always sure what we are doing. This comes as a challenge, but also as an opportunity to grow, develop our leadership skills and learn to become more self sufficient. The best advice I could give to any prospective Corps Member is be prepared for change, because it is guaranteed on a daily basis in FEMA Corps.

Check out the following article written about Summit 7:

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to the 304 members from the Southwest Region and the 294 members from the Pacific Region on their successful induction into Class XIX of AmeriCorps NCCC. Have a great service year! Southwest Region

Pacific Region

Follow My Lead: An Alumni Perspective Follow My Lead: An Alumni Perspective spotlights an AmeriCorps NCCC alum who continues to carry forth the AmeriCorps commitment to get things done. This edition of Escape the Ordinary will focus on Michael Muir, a former NCCC member from the Pacific Region (located in Sacramento, California). Michael Muir served on Silver 2 in Class 16 of AmeriCorps NCCC. Griffith Ryan-Roberts, also an NCCC alum and an Alumni Leadership Council member for the Pacific Region spoke with Michael about his NCCC experience and the impact that it has had on his life. (Note: You can also read Griffith’s spotlight by clicking his name above) How many teammates did you have as Seattle to do ISPs and the other one we were in the middle of the forest and it a Corps Member? How many do you took us about an hour and a half to get still keep in contact with? into the nearest town to do any type of We were a team of 10 including our ISP. Team Leader. I actually keep in contact with a couple of them. I actually just What are your fondest overall invited one of my fellow teammates to memories? come out and live with me for a bit. We have also had one reunion and got like I think just hanging out with the team six of us together in Boston. and getting back for transitions and sharing stories and seeing old friends. I mean fighting fires was awesome and What were some of your projects? being a part of a team that you really Which was your favorite? put your life on the line for was amazing. We had 4 projects but one was a double I also like how we, as an AmeriCorps round and one was split into 2 different team got special props from the Mayor spikes. The 4 projects were the Utah of Chico for our work with the local Food Bank, Sacramento Zoo, Camp Habitat for Humanity. Sealth, and Plumas National Forest. I really enjoyed them all for many What was something you did for the different reasons but being a wild land first time? firefighter was an amazing experience plus doing it for a couple of rounds Cook my own meal. Just kidding. I think meant that we really got to know our site setting up a lot of ISPs was new for me. supervisors. Not to mention that when I set them up, I tried to explore new service projects that were outside of my comfort zone. What were your most This included working with kids, bikes, interesting/challenging the homeless, pets, community gardens, accommodations? gift wrapping, and many others. You All of our accommodations were name it and I tried to do it. amazing. We stayed at 2 different camps and lived in our own fire house. What was the most outrageous thing One of the more challenging aspects that you did? was that two times we were in isolated areas. Once we lived on an island so we I went swimming in the Pacific Ocean up had to make a real effort to get into near Seattle in the middle of

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February for a solid 30 minutes to get our team a free pie. I nearly gave myself hypothermia. What was the most challenging part of your ten months of service? How did you overcome these challenges? Probably saying goodbye. We had a real cohesive team and while we had our bumps in the road, it wasn't anything we couldn't get through. Running the lead Pulaski on a fire line crew for ten hours a day is really really demanding, especially physically.

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Why do you think national service is important?

Check out these photos from Mike’s service year!

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It serves to better yourself as well as others. In a lot of ways, we are an inspiration to others to show that there are people who care a whole lot. It’s really hard to explain but once you spend enough time volunteering, you really do get a sense of pride and privilege. Also after a while, you really get to see how many people’s lives you get to touch throughout your service year. How has your NCCC experience affected your life? Well considering that I am now on my third year of AmeriCorps, it has left a lasting impression on me. I believe that what it will boil down to is that I don't think I can go back or start up some type of job that doesn't really help others in the same way that doing NCCC/ AmeriCorps does. Not to mention all the lifelong friends that I have picked up along the way. Do you have any advice for prospective Corps Members? I would say to do it! NCCC is a great way for you to serve a lot of people and surround yourself with a new family of team members. I would also use it as an opportunity to explore many different aspects of service through many different agencies. For instance, I did several ISPs with plenty of different organizations and realized that I am not so much a kid or pet type of person but instead loved bikes and building. So that led me down the path of working with Bike & Build as well as doing my second year of AmeriCorps with Habitat for Humanity. It is a great way to get to know yourself and it’s fun to do it as well.

We are currently accepting applications for our NCCC and FEMA Corps Fall 2013 cycle. APPLY TODAY! true - AmeriCorps NCCC Fall 2013 true - FEMA Corps Fall 2013


AMERICORPS NCCC 1201 New York Ave Washington, DC 20525 Phone: 800-942-2677 E-mail: FOLLOW NCCC ONLINE:

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How does placement work in NCCC? NCCC employs a “rolling admissions” process, similar to many colleges. We have a few rounds of placements during the application period and additional rounds of placements once our application period closes. We continue to offer positions as they become available, including up to the day before a campus opens. All selections and placements are random. We have far more qualified applicants than positions available, and unfortunately cannot guarantee a position to all qualified applicants. Additional invitations for Winter 2013 and FEMA Corps are coming soon. Stay tuned!

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What does my NCCC status mean? You’ve heard about the amazing things that AmeriCorps NCCC members do and now you’re ready to be a part of this great program. You apply but then you ask, “What does Under Review mean”? Well, we’re going to break down those statuses right here.

Escape the Ordinary - November 2012  

Check out our latest edition of "Escape the Ordinary," a monthly AmeriCorps NCCC Applicant Newsletter. It includes lots of helpful informat...